Rocky Ford responds
In Colorado, a new growers association has turned over audit responsibilities to the state’s department of agriculture. The plan is for Colorado growers to submit to at least two government audits each season — one scheduled, one unannounced. The association also endorsed box-level traceability for Rocky Ford cantaloupes.
But Rocky Ford production could be down 75% this year. Michael Hirakata, head of the new association and co-owner of Hirakata Farms, told The Packer in April that about 1,500 of the typical 2,000 acres will not be producing cantaloupes.
The 2011 listeria outbreak claimed 32 lives and sickened at least 146 people in 28 states.